Job losses through workers’ eyes


Numsa is bleeding. Every day company notices of retrenchment or short time arrive on our fax machines. The reason is always the same: “drop in orders”.

Plans to reverse the downward spiralling and job losses in the metal and engineering manufacturing industries will be unveiled in the Numsa initiated job security conference scheduled for 12-14 March, 2009. In the spotlight will be how the global economic crisis has put an end to South Africa's export-led growth and with it those jobs and how to salvage the damage done.

If you have ideas on what Numsa should be doing, send them to:Numsa News PO Box 260483, Excom 2023 or fax to 011-833 6330 or e-mail to

Economic meltdown – through workers' eyesPinky Ramokoko

“I used to work as a contractor. Ever since I lost my job in November my wife has been fighting with me everyday. She tells me she can't live with a man who doesn't work. She even threatened to leave me and my kids.

I can't take this anymore. I just want my job back,” says a worker who has just lost his job. Workers go home after work not knowing whether their jobs will be there tomorrow.

People can no longer afford to pay rent, they are everyday being harassed by banks, landlords, retail shops.

The worst part, they can't even pay for their children's education. This translates into a life of extreme stress, domestic violence and untold family miseries.“I am the only woman working with men in the workshop in this engineering company.

The company was supposed to retrench most of the workers. But we sat down with management and discussed this.

We agreed that it will be better if we go on lay-off rather than being retrenched,” said one woman.Jabu Manana, chairperson at Nissan says job losses are a major blow to all because their extended families will be the most affected.

They are starting to worry about the breaking down of their homes when they can no longer service their housing bonds. We can no longer sit back and pretend that we are experiencing a normal situation.

Bosses are merely firing workers left, right and centre in order to increase and protect their profits. And this is happening to global capitalism today. “What is happening in the world today? How did we get there?

Time to act!Lucien Windwaai

Members are resigning on a daily basis due to the fact that they cannot survive when working for two days and staying home for the other three.

Capitalists blame the bad economy, no sales of production and various excuses to get rid of our loyal members.

Now is the time to act as a union and not leave this “epidemic” like this. Let's engage, even if we have to withdraw our labour.

Members and families are suffering but jobs are being taken to other places and then being exported. “Enough is enough,” we cannot just lay back and wait for the hour to be retrenched, whether it is voluntary or forced retrenchment.

Members are breaking away from each other and the unity therefore will not be strong.

The working class starts to fight against one another and forgetting that capitalists are our enemy and not our fellow workers.If capitalists see such conflicts they take advantage of such opportunities where there is no unity.

They take from us what we have fought for. Members, we know these are tough times with layoffs, retrenchments and short-time but let's not break the spirit of Numsa.

Rather let us lose our jobs in the battle than siding with them who have been robbing us all these years. In 1967 Amilcar Cabral addressed a conference of African and Caribbean countries and had this to say, “However difficult the struggle may be against the enemy, the most difficult struggle is a struggle against our own weaknesses.”

VW puts pressure on workers Ayanda Billie

Since late November 2008 the VWSA management has come up with a number of proposals regarding its 'excess' employees.

Numsa raised concerns about the timing of the consultation by the company(that it was towards shut-down) and that it was clear that the company wanted to put Numsa under pressure.

Late last year VWSA came up with three options to Numsa:retrenchments,short time for the whole year for 700 employees ora training pool for the excess labour.

After consultation with members, Numsa shop-stewards agreed to negotiate on option three. This option included paying workers whilst they are in the training, as well as through lay-off hours, service leave and overtime banking.

The mandate Numsa shop stewards got from workers was clear – NO to all the source of payments, through engagement we ended agreeing to give our lay-off hours.

In response to that VWSA said they would not change their position.Numsa shop stewards went back to their members where they got a mandate to include payment from the short time fund above the lay-off hours.

In response the company said they were not changing their position. At that point the company raised the issue of short time which would see workers work four days every second week and a mini shut-down in April.
Later a mini shut down was added at the end of February called a global shut down. The latest proposal by VWSA management includes offering Voluntary Severance Packages, sending people to VWSA funded projects, sending some to training and others to the absence pool.

They also said that those proposals are subject to Numsa agreeing to discussions around the overtime banking.Numsa says: “In our view the management is embarking on a new project (the new Polo) that will take time to get underway.

It is our view that the company wants workers to pay for management's programme. We are totally against that.

The company is using the workers who are in the excess pool as a gun against our heads to agree on every proposal that they have put forward.

We have tried by all means to come close to a solution but each time the company has rejected those attempts”.

That as much as the union does not agree with taking people out of work, we as per our mandate agree with offering of VSPs to all interested employees, that the company send people on VWSA projects and training.

We also want to see payment of those workers for all the time they spend outside and that this is done through their lay-off and short time fund.

We further wish to encourage workers to consider giving us a mandate on the issue of debating overtime banking, because without this, the workers outside would remain there (outside) without pay.

In absence of that mandate the workers must further assist the leadership in coming up with solutions to the problemâ€.


Numsa News